Nerding Out on The Modern Milgauss

The Milgauss is Rolex’s antimagnetic watch that can withstand up to 1,000 gauss of magnetic forces. It was presented in 1956 for scientists and technicians who had to deal with magnetic fields in their day-to-day professional lives. Although the Rolex Milgauss was in production for over three decades, it was never a blockbuster like the Submariner or GMT-Master. So Rolex eventually discontinued the Milgauss watch in 1988.

However, in 2007, Rolex brought back the Milgauss to the surprise of almost everyone in the watch community. As is characteristic of the brand, Rolex kept signature details of the vintage Milgauss collection but presented it in a completely contemporary fashion. Let’s delve into the modern Milgauss ref. 116400 and nerd out on this awesome scientist’s watch.

Similarities and Differences between Vintage Milgauss and Modern Milgauss Watches

Vintage VS New Rolex Milgauss

Vintage Milgauss watches sport a 38mm case, which for its era, was considered a large size for a men’s watch. Today, Rolex increased the size even more to 40mm to fit into current watch trends. To also match modern tastes, the Milgauss ref. 116400 includes a bolder dial with thicker luminescent indexes and plenty of colors.

Very early editions of the Milgauss (ref. 6543 and ref. 6541) included a rotating and graduated bezel similar to the Submariner. This bezel was eventually replaced with a smooth bezel in the 1960s with the ref. 1091. Similar to the ref. 1091, the modern Milgauss ref. 116400 is also equipped with a smooth stainless steel bezel.

But most importantly, the modern Milgauss ref. 116400 comes along with the distinct lightning bolt seconds hand. Rolex introduced this unique detail on the early Milgauss watches as a nod to the scientific community the watch was created for. The thunderbolt was then dropped in the ref. 1091, but thankfully it’s back. Plus, to really show it off, the lightning bolt hand is in a vibrant orange color—as is the MILGAUSS label, in addition to other elements on the dial. A very modern color choice indeed.

How Does Rolex Make the Modern Milgauss Anti-Magnetic?

Rolex Caliber 3131

Magnetic forces have serious effects on watch movements. However, living up to its name, the Milgauss is able to keep accurate and precise timekeeping even when exposed to high levels of magnetism.

Like vintage models, the current Milgauss protects its automatic movement with a shield. If you were to take off the screw-down caseback,  the capital letter ‘B’ with an arrow above it–the symbol for magnetic flux density–engraved into the shield.

The shield protects the Rolex Caliber 3131 mechanical movement powering the Milgauss ref. 116400. The anti-magnetism of the caliber is further enforced thanks to the paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring. The in-house self-winding Caliber 3131 offers 48 hours of power reserve.

What is Milgauss Glace Verte and Z-Blue?

Rolex Milgauss 116400GV

When the revamped Milgauss made its debut in 2007, there were three versions: one with a white dial, one with a black dial, and one with a black dial and green sapphire crystal. In fact, the model with the green sapphire crystal carries the reference number 116400GV where “GV” is “glace verte” or “green ice” in French. Scratchproof and fade proof, the green tint on the sapphire crystal lends a futuristic glow to the timepiece. Rolex claims that it took years to develop the green crystal concept and weeks to produce each one. As a result, they didn’t even bother to patent the process!

Seven years after the first modern Milgauss, Rolex offered another version with a Z-Blue dial. The Z-Blue dial is also exclusive to the Milgauss collection and its vibrant color pairs so well with the green crystal, in addition to the orange details. It’s a look that is instantly recognizable and charismatically contemporary.

Rolex essentially took a little bit of this from vintage models and added a little bit of that from modern styles and innovations, and created the modern Milgauss—much like a scientist does in the lab!